East Coast Chair and Barstool Blog

Give Your Restaurant Patio a Furniture Overhaul with the Luca and Lena Outdoor Collections

The Luca with Poly Collection in Lime Green on Patio with Table

Shake up your restaurant’s patio this year with our latest outdoor furniture lineup! Sticking to notable restaurant trends like mid-century modern shapes and the mixing of materials, these fresh new designs can upgrade your outdoor area and give it new life.

Whether you want to add a pop of color with the Luca with Poly Collection or stick to the classic dark silhouettes of the Luca or Lena Collection, East Coast Chair & Barstool has the right look for your patio.

The Luca Collection

Luca Collection

Straight lines and ladder back design give the Luca Collection bar stools and chairs their mid-century look. Don’t let these tapered legs fool you, the Luca Collection frames are made from e-coated steel and are fully welded, adding weight that’s great for patios subject to windy seasons. The frame has a black Sandtex finish that prevents rust and keeps this collection looking great for many patio seasons to come.

The Lena Collection

Lena Collection

Throw your patio design a curve ball with the Lena Collection bar stool and chair. This design features a twist on the traditional ladder back with a rounded top bracing and comfortable seat. Like the Luca Collection, the Lena’s e-coated steel frame with a black Sandtex finish presents a durable front against the weather.

The Luca with Poly Collection

Luca with Poly Collection

Combine the strength of a steel frame and poly lumber slats with the Luca with Poly Collection and add a little extra personality. This bar stool, chair, and side chair are e-coated to prevent rust and increase durability. To personalize this collection, choose from over 25 domestic poly lumber colors for the back and seat. Versatile with a splash of color, create your patio’s color scheme with the Luca with Poly Collection.

The Luca Collection Table Tops

Luca Collection Tables

Classic black never goes out of style, especially for your restaurant’s patio. The Luca Collection Table Tops have a durable e-coated steel frame that’s held together with stainless steel hardware. These table tops can blend right into your patio’s look and pair well with the Luca, Lena, and Luca with Poly furniture collections. They also feature slits that not only look great but make it easy for water to drain from the table top. Keep your customers cool by using the Luca Collection Tables’ umbrella hole and adding an umbrella.

Check out these brand-new collections on our website and in our catalog. If you have questions about the Luca or Lena Collections, please feel free to reach out to our customer care team by calling 800-986-5352.

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 7 Furniture Styles That Can Be Used Inside or Outside Your Restaurant

With patio season right around the corner, it’s handy to have furniture that can pull double duty when you need it to!

Busy night out in your outdoor bar area? Grab some seating from indoors! A larger party just came in to dine? No problem, grab a table and base and give them some more space. Furniture that can be properly used inside and out can be extremely helpful for restaurants that shift their layout to where guests prefer to dine.

Whether you prefer classic design or something a little more trendy, East Coast Chair & Barstool has the right furniture that works harder inside and outside your restaurant.

Distressed Viktor Collection

Distressed Orange, Distressed Sky Blue, Distressed Black, Distressed Kelly Red, Distressed White, and Distressed Kelly Blue Viktor Chairs

We’ve taken one of our most popular rustic industrial styles and added the right pop of color! With six different colors, you can keep your color theme neutral (Black, White), whimsical (Sky Blue, Orange), or bold (Kelly Red, Kelly Blue) with the Distressed Viktor Collection.

So what makes this collection different from our other Viktors, besides the fun colors?

These Distressed Viktor bar stools and chairs go through a 10-step finishing process, ending with a strong powder coat. Through this process, the 16-gauge steel frame becomes durable enough to use inside or outside your restaurant.

These bar stools and chairs have the option to add a vinyl or wood seat, but these seat options are only warrantied for indoor use. To be able to use these Viktors wherever you need in your restaurant, leave the seat metal.

The weathered style is a great addition to your dining room space or patio, and right on trend! 

Hendrix Chairs

Distressed Black, Distressed Gray, and Distressed White Hendrix Chairs

Add a mid-century modern feel to your café tables or outdoor patio with the Hendrix chairs. These chairs boast a fully welded steel frame that’s been e-coated to make them durable for any commercial environment. The Hendrix chair has an overall squared silhouette with a ladder-style back that feeds into its classic appeal.

Enjoy design that you won’t find anywhere else, with unique colors that will set your space apart. Playing on the rustic trend, Hendrix chairs are available in classic colors (Distressed White, Distressed Gray, Distressed Black) with distressed markings. And if you have a slower night where you don’t need the chairs on in your dining room or patio, Hendrix chairs are stackable for easy storage.

Carlisle Chairs

Distressed Gray, Distressed Black, and Distressed Oak Carlisle Chairs

The Carlisle chair has a distinctive cross back design with stylized frame that never goes out of style. These chairs are fantastic for coffee shops, bakeries, and cafés that need to accommodate curbside tables as well as extra seating inside.

Strong and durable, the Carlisle chair’s 16-gauge steel frame is e-coated in three different colors (Distressed Black, Distressed Gray, Distressed Oak). This e-coating is what makes the Carlisle tough enough for indoor and outdoor use. To complete the look, the chair has artistic distress marks to give them a weathered, industrial look.

An ash wood seat is available for the Carlisle chairs but is only warrantied for indoor use.

The design of the frame allows these chairs to stack, making it easy to have them on hand and ready when you need to make space for extra customers.

IsoTop Sliq Table Tops

Black Steel, Cement, Dark Mica, Gray Oak, and Metal Line IsoTop Sliq Table Tops

Beautiful and durable, IsoTop table tops are a must for a restaurant that demands versatility in its dining layout. These table tops are a high-density laminate that have a modern European design and boast a sleek ½” edge profile.

Get the look of wood (Gray Oak), metal (Metal Line, Black Steel, Dark Mica), or marbled top (Cement) with a flat surface and added layers for increased durability. These tops are pre-stressed, UV-resistant, and have a dry matte finish that create a smooth surface.

IsoTop tables are great for tight spaces with their 32” x 32” square or 32” x 48” rectangle top size options.

Vienna, Palermo, and Newport Table Bases

Whether you’re looking for a table base with a little more flair (Vienna) or one that can hold an umbrella for your patio (Palermo, Newport), we have some bases that will support your table tops, inside and out!

Vienna Table Base

We’re shaking up the classic disc design with the Vienna base. This base is made of strong e-coated cast steel, making it ideal in your dining area or on your patio with its stylized ridge design. Depending on what table you’re supporting, the Vienna is offered with an 18”, 24”, or 30” plate and comes in table or bar height.

Indoor/ Outdoor Newport Table Base

The Newport table base is an instant-classic, especially for outdoor spaces, with its built-in umbrella holder. The Newport’s steel frame is powder coated black for a streamlined appearance and unbeatable durability. Choose from an 18” or 22” base size in table or bar height for your table tops.

Palermo Single Table Base in Black and Palermo Bar Height Double Table Base in Silver

Get the support you need with the Palermo single or double table base. If you think you’re going to need a place to support an umbrella, go with the single Palermo with its built-in umbrella holder. Need more support? Try the double Palermo base. Both the single and double styles are available in table and bar height. Regardless of which you choose, the Palermo is made from heavy duty steel that won’t corrode. Get the right base to match your décor (inside or out) by choosing a black or silver Palermo table base.

Each of these bases are available in have self-leveling floor glides for extra stability.  

Put your mind at ease by finding commercial-grade restaurant furniture that can be used inside and out. This will help keep your warranty intact and your restaurant layout flexible. 

Have a question about a product we discussed? Please call our customer care team at 800-986-5352 for more information. Be sure to also check out our catalog for all the latest products coming to East Coast Chair & Barstool.

Can I Use a Solid Wood Table Top as a Bar/Counter Top?

FAQ from East Coast Chair and Barstool

There’s no doubt that our wood tabletops are eye-catching. So much so, in fact, that many customers want to know if they can use them to top their bars or counter tops. Unfortunately, the answer is no, and there’s a good reason.

At East Coast Chair & Barstool, we offer a plethora of solid wood table tops that are manufactured with a specific sealing process designed for commercial dining tables, not bar tops.  Bar tops are traditionally finished with a thick layer of epoxy to create an impenetrable barrier between liquids and the surface of the wood. While this works well for bars, it tends to take away from the character and overall look of the wood, which is why it is not used for tables.

Even with our premium grade finishes, our solid wood tables are not warrantied for the wear and tear like an official bar top.

If you have further questions about our solid wood table tops, please give our customer care specialists a call at 800-986-5352.

Drink Trends to Watch in 2019

When it comes time to order a drink, a few bar-goers stick with their tried and true favorite cocktails, you know, the same one they tried on their 21st birthday and have never ventured away from. But then you have the other type of customer that is more intrigued by the trends and expanding their horizons when they walk into the bar. These trendsetters seek out the latest and greatest in hopes of informing others of the most recent concoctions or getting that perfect Instagram picture to share with their friends. In the interest of luring these trendsetters into your bar and staying relevant in a competitive industry, we look at the trends rising to the forefront of the drink industry.

Sustainability

Just as with the rest of the restaurant industry, sustainability is a topic that is near and dear to consumer’s hearts. Customers want to know where their drinks are coming from and if they are being sourced in an ethical way. Research shows that consumers are willing to pay for these types of drinks.

Bartenders are also looking at sustainability by using their resources in the best way possible. Often times, creating a zero-waste cocktail cuts down on bar costs. Even taking steps to not use plastic straws anymore is beneficial cost wise and with customer approval.

Elevated Mocktails

Mocktails are making a comeback. Offering mocktails at a bar might seem strange but it can be a great way to reach a whole new set of customers. But these mocktails are not your momma’s Shirley Temples. These are more complex and intriguing then just throwing some grenadine in a Sprite. Like their alcoholic counterparts, these drinks are more intriguing than ever with the use of unexpected flavors and fresh ingredients.

Sour Beers

Expect to see more sour beers than ever. Not only are sours gaining popularity, but they are getting the subcategorization they need. Beers like kettle sours, fruit sours, goses (a traditional German-style unfiltered sour wheat beer), and solera (a process of aging by which fractional blending occurs to create a finished product of a mixture of ages) will all be separated out for customers to peruse.

While the flavor of sour beer’s flavor is old, American brewers have only learned how to safely produce it en masse for a little over the past five years. It draws a market for drinkers who are not traditional beer fans. People such as wine and cocktail lovers.

Gin

Gin, while an old favorite for some, has started gaining an even bigger following the past several years. Gin is huge news in the Northern Hemisphere, with European gins the most in demand around the world. Gin drinkers are becoming more experimental, seeking out new flavor and ingredients. Whether it is a classic gin and tonic or a gin with new flavor infusions, you’ll be seeing gin on more and more menus.

Brunch Drinks

Almost everyone has needed some hair of the dog after a particularly rowdy night. Brunch drinks are here to provide that. They are a delicious antidote that is more popular now than ever. While Mimosa’s and Bloody Mary’s have long cornered the market, expect to see some new drinks. Especially drinks that feature locally produced ingredients and sustainability.

Cannabis-Based Drinks

With the legalization of cannabis in some states, cannabis-based drinks have started to appear on menus. Cannabis drinks are not all about a new way to get high. By mixing it into a drink, it will add an herbal undertone, no matter the ingredient you use. The exact flavor varies based on the strain of cannabis you use. Though it does have a surprisingly versatile flavor pairing with liquors.

Distillery Tourism

While it isn’t a drink, distillery tours are bigger than ever. Whether it is a bachelor party just looking for a few good drinks or someone looking to learn the ins and outs of distilling, offering tours is a great way for distilleries to increase profit. It is also ideal for creating brand awareness and loyalty. When someone tours the facilities, they form an attachment.

For example, when they might have walked right past your brand at the store, now after touring, they will see it and be more likely to put it in their cart because they feel like they have some investment in your distillery.

Plus, at the end of the tour, many attendees will purchase goods to remember the experience. Money for the tour, money for the goods, and increased brand awareness and loyalty. It is a win, win, win situation. Expect to see even more distilleries opening their doors to tours in 2019.

 

While trying to incorporate all of these trends might not work for your bar, one of them has the possibility to be a big hit. Staying relevant in the industry can mean the difference between a lucrative year and having to close your doors.

Have you started serving one of these drinks at your bar? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Introducing the Monaco Deep Seating Collection

Create the outdoor oasis your restaurant patio has always needed. Allow customers to enjoy cocktails with co-workers and food with friends in your beautiful outdoor area while sitting in the lap of luxury in the Monaco Collection. The Monaco Collection is our brand-new deep seating line that consists of a chair, love seat, sofa, ottoman, coffee table, and side table.

See all the entire Monaco Collection by clicking through this slideshow:

  • Monaco Collection Love Seat in Driftwood Gray Poly Lumber and Canvas Navy Cushions

Each seating option comes with your choice of seat and back cushion. The ottoman also comes with a cushion so you can match! Choose from our selection of 10 stock Sunbrella cushion fabrics. These cushions are made from solution-dyed acrylic that is fade resistant and durable, perfect for commercial environments. Custom cushions are also available for purchase to your deep seating set.

Monaco Collection Sunbrella Stock Cushion Colors

The Monaco Collection features aluminum bracing on its poly lumber frame for extra strength. Because this collection has poly lumber construction, it’s easier to maintain and your staff will thank you! This deep seating collection can be made in over 20 poly lumber colors, including five wood grain options. This collection also arrives fully assembled so all you have to do is put it on your patio and start serving your customers!

Mix and match Monaco Collection pieces to find the right combination for your patio. If you need to create privacy, try pairing a few chairs and side table. Or if you’re looking to create a more group-centric setting, play around with the love seat, sofa, and coffee table. Create the layout on your patio to best serve your customers, staff, and restaurant flow.

Get seating that encourages guests to lean back and take it all in (with a drink in hand of course).

Ready to take your patio to new heights? Get started creating your Monaco Collection setup today. Have a question about our poly lumber or our deep seating? Give us a call at 800-986-5352 to speak with our customer care team.

Upgrade Your Restaurant Seating with New Booths

Time to add new seating to your restaurant? See what one of our new booths can do for your restaurant’s layout and overall design.

East Coast Chair & Barstool booths are Amish-made in the USA with superior craftsmanship and careful attention to detail. The booths come with many choices and customization like different vinyl colors or wood options. These booths below can be made in reclaimed barn wood, urban distressed wood, or rustic pine with multiple finish options, so you can match your solid wood table tops. 

Scroll through each slideshow and check out all the new exciting booth styles for this upcoming year!

Rustic Pine Booth

  • Rustic Pine Booth - Single

We’re adding a new wood option to our rustic booth lineup! The rustic pine booth is finished with a bourbon stain to highlight the beautiful distressed marks of the wood, creating a different look and texture than the reclaimed and urban distressed wood options.

Depending how much privacy you want for your restaurant, you can choose from single and double rustic pine booths with heights from 43” to 54”. And like the other rustic booth options, you can also choose whether you want a vinyl back or just leave it wood to match.

Tufted Booth

  • Tufted Booth - Single

Transform your restaurant’s interior with the elegant comfort of the Tufted Booth. This booth has distinct appearance because of its strategically placed buttons and folds (find out more about this diamond tufting technique here).

The Tufted Booth also has a unique color selection of soft Naugahyde vinyl to really make your booth special for your restaurant. The Tufted Booth is available in 36” to 48” heights and 48” to 72” lengths in both single and double styles.

Tavern Booth

  • Tavern Booth - Single

Mixing materials is what the Tavern Booth is all about. This booth is mainly constructed from either reclaimed, urban distressed, or rustic pine wood but also has a fully welded clear coat frame underneath. Even more than just the wood choices, the Tavern leaves a lot of room for customization for your restaurant or bar.

When purchased in the single style, this booth comes with a handcrafted unfinished back that allows restaurant patrons to get a closer look at the distressed wood. You can also add a coat rack to the any of the height options (43” to 54”).

Orchard Booth

  • Orchard Booth - Single

We put a twist on our classic vinyl booth by adding wood caps, making a contrast with these two materials to create the Orchard Booth. These caps can be made with any of our rustic wood options and finishes, making it simple to match your table tops. The Orchard Booth can also be made with a crumb strip for easy cleaning. But this booth isn’t complete until you select your vinyl color! This booth has a little more vinyl than our traditional rustic booths, with a vinyl seat, back, and back of the booth for a whole new look. The Orchard Booth can be made from a standard 43” height up to 54” to accommodate how you want these booths to look.

Trestle Booth

  • Trestle Booth - Single

Bring the farmhouse style to your dining space with the Trestle Booth. The Trestle Booth is all about being customized for your restaurant’s needs in any of our rustic wood options. This striking wood booth can be finished with a wood or vinyl back and comes with a vinyl seat. Like its namesake frame, the Trestle Booth is a great addition to your restaurant because its legs are high enough off the ground that your staff can easily clean the floor underneath it.  

Choose the right Trestle Booth for your restaurant by selecting your height (between 43” and 54”) and length (from 48” and 72”).

You can learn more about these booths by stopping by our upcoming tradeshows, visiting our website, or calling our dedicated customer care team at 800-986-5352.

What Bucket Bar Stool is Best for My Restaurant?

FAQ from East Coast Chair and Barstool

When you envision a classic bar in your head, you most likely imagine a bucket bar stool at the bar top. Buckets are comfortable and encourage customers to stay longer and spend more. But how are you going to know which one is best for your bar or restaurant?

To answer this question, you should first ask yourself what your goals are for your bar. Is comfort your top priority? Are looks important to you? Are you looking to fit as many as possible or are you okay with fewer stools? These questions are the best indicator of what bar stool you should go with.

Comfort

Any bucket bar stool is going to offer a higher level of comfort than a standard wood or metal stool, but if comfort is your top priority there are a few things to look for. First is seat thickness; you want a stool with a thick cushion because more cushion equals more comfort. Another is a flex back construction. Nobody wants to sit This allows for customers to lean back or adjust for maximum comfort. Finally, the molding of the seat. With an ergonomic seat and back, the seat will mold to the customer’s body for the ultimate in bar stool comfort.

Comfortable bar stools work well in restaurants that want to encourage customers to stay for a while and continue to drink.

Aesthetic

If you want your bucket bar stools to really add to your aesthetic, you might want to consider a tufted bucket bar stool. The unique buttoned vinyl design is not something that you see everywhere and will have your customers doing a double take.

Another option would be a bar stool with a decorative stitch. It may not seem like a lot, but the simple stitch addition will make the bucket stand out from the standard bucket bar stool.

Tufted or stitched bucket bar stools are a great option for bars looking to create a certain vibe or even a luxurious atmosphere.

Spacing

If you are a little short on space, a bar stool that has a rounding to the back often has a smaller footprint, which allows for more to be comfortably placed at a bar. This setup works well for smaller venues that still want to offer comfortable buckets to their customers.

Budget

Just because a bucket has a lower price point, doesn’t mean it isn’t a good stool. There are a few things you can look for in a budget-friendly stool to make sure it will work for you. A waterfall edge is a good option to have, this simply means there is no seam on the front of the seat, so it won’t tear with the consistent sliding on and off that some customers do.

Another feature to look for is seams with cord or PVC edging to protect them. This will help to increase the lifespan of your bucket.

Budget-friendly buckets are a great option for VFW’s, Elk Clubs, and similar organizations because they are cost-friendly and can keep customers comfortable for extended sitting and buying.

 

Still not sure what bucket bar stool would work for your business? Contact our customer care team at 800-986-5352 for their expert advice.

March Tradeshows 2019, We’ll See You There!

The start of a new year means it’s the start of tradeshow season at East Coast Chair & Barstool. It’s always exciting to get out in the field and meet old customers and connect with new customers face to face. 

We will be exhibiting at the New England Food Show in Boston and at the Nightclub & Bar Show in Las Vegas this March. Tradeshows are a great way for your business to experience the latest technology, business practices, and network with vendors to find exciting new products. For us, tradeshows are a great time to showcase our newest furniture.

Both are can’t miss tradeshows for the restaurant industry but here’s a little more information about each show, so you can choose which is the best for you to attend.

New England Food Show (March 3-5, 2019)

New England Food Show - East Coast Chair & Barstool Tradeshows

Location: Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (Boston, Massachusetts)

We are headed back to Boston for our second time exhibiting at the New England Food Show (NEFS). This show is a great fit for any restaurateur looking to find new ways to get customers in the door, food trends, and ways of interacting with customers that will inspire loyalty.

Keynote speakers for this year’s NEFS include Aman Narang (president and co-founder of Toast), Anne Burrell (chef and Food Network personality), and Jim Koch (founder and brewer of Samuel Adams).

In addition to the exhibitors (stop and say hi to us in booth #543!), the show floor has culinary demonstrations (Center Stage), tech talks (Tech Theater), innovations to improve business efficiency (Tech Pavilion), complimentary social media consultations (Social Media Hub), and beverage pairing (Beverage Alcohol Pavilion).

There are various educational seminars being offered in the show’s ‘Ed-Quarters’ including sessions like “Appealing to the (Digital) Senses: How Video Moves Us Along the Path to Purchase”, “Own the Experience, Own the Results! The 4 Pillars of Success to Drive Guest Frequency”, and “Consumers Want Transparency, Not Greenwashing: How to Give It to Them”.

Nightclub & Bar Show (March 25-27, 2019)

Nightclub & Bar Show - East Coast Chair & Barstool Tradeshows

Location: Las Vegas Convention Center (Las Vegas, Nevada)

Calling all bar and nightclub owners, the Nightclub & Bar Show (NCB) is right around the corner in Las Vegas. This will be our sixth time exhibiting at this tradeshow since 2013 and we’re excited to go back! There’s no better location for the NCB show to take place than in the epicenter of nightlife that is Las Vegas. Enjoy learning about mixology, bartending systems, and tricks of the trade.

Listen to heads of industry like Jon Taffer of Bar Rescue and Jim Meehan, James Beard Award winner and bartender, speak about promoting your bar or restaurant in revolutionary ways. You can divulge new information with sessions like “The Food Delivery Challenge – Making Profits with Third Party Fees”, “How to Herd Cats: 7 Secrets to Get the Restaurant or Bar You Want”, “Service in America Sucks”, and “The Magic of Building a Beverage Program”.

You can also attend hands-on workshops, demonstrations, and trainings to teach your staff the latest skills and techniques. But definitely don’t miss East Coast Chair & Barstool in both #610!

At both of these shows, you’ll get to check out the additions to our product line up, like new rustic booths, distressed pine table tops, and even seating styles that can be used indoor or outdoor at your restaurant. No matter which coast you are on, come out and meet us at NEFS or NCB!

What Other Restaurants Can Learn from “Build Your Own Meal” Concepts

There is no restaurant concept more creative than being one step away from literally putting customers behind a prep table or oven. We’re talking about “build your own meal” restaurant concepts and why they flourish. Popular examples of restaurants that use this concept include Blaze Pizza, Chipotle, Noodles and Company, and Burgatory. These restaurants put the creativity in customers hands as they select the ingredients and toppings that are going into their entrée, with endless possibilities.

See how this concept works and how you can shake up your restaurant’s processes with these tips!

Smooth Ordering

Long gone are the days of ‘can you put the tomatoes on the side?’ and ‘can I substitute kale for lettuce?’ Commonly these restaurants use an assembly line system where the meal and customer move down the line or, at sit-down establishments, customers fill out a check list of everything they want on their entrée.

This should also reduce the margin for error with a server taking down an order. It’s easier for something to be misheard and written down incorrectly at a bustling restaurant versus a customer putting a tick mark next to jalapenos.

The typical ordering process for these restaurants allows customers to order comfortably and not have to communicate their likes and dislikes to a waiter- picky eaters unite! It can also save the staff time going through each option with the customer.

What you can do in your restaurant: Streamline the order process for customers by breaking it down, step by step. Start with the base meal and work your way up with options. For example, start with the different kinds of meat they can choose for their burger. Then, work to buns, cheese, toppings, and sauces to finish their order.

Transparency

With “build your own meal” concepts, restaurants are forced to be upfront and honest about their ingredients. It’s likely you’ve been to eateries where you can see their ingredients behind a sneeze guard and they aren’t really looking as “fresh” as they say (here’s looking at you, Subway).

When customers are building their meals down the line or even from a notepad, they want to see basic options, as well as some places they can get a little creative. These ingredients need to look and sound (if written) appetizing to invite customers to have a little fun with their food.

Restaurants offering truly fresh ingredients can make customers can feel good about what they’re choosing to put into their bodies. So, try partnering with local farms to get fresh produce or meat. This is not only a mutually beneficial partnership but will promote local sustainability and sourced foods as well.

What you can do in your restaurant: Label, label, label! If ingredients are gluten-free, vegetarian/vegan-friendly, or soy-based, let customers know. The more detailed you can be with your ingredients, the better.

Experience

The modern restaurant is moving toward these customized experiences, like “build your own meal”, because it integrates the customers into the theatrics. Dinner becomes much more like a production than just ordering tacos a specific way, it’s a curated food adventure. 

With the possibilities of “build your own meal” concepts, customers could come ten times to your pizza place but have a different experience every single time based on their choices.

There is just a little ego-building that goes into “build your own meal” concepts. Customers are being asked to take the reins, so it’s up to them what they create. If they create something they love or is just not quite what they were hoping, there’s a possibility they’ll be back to tweak it so it’s perfection.

Try also featuring a combination of the month. This could spark a customer’s creativity while also enticing people to stop by!

What you can do in your restaurant: When you make your list of ingredient choices, make sure to not offer flavors that will ruin a customer’s meal. For example, if a customer has decided to float their burger in a marmalade and they’re not satisfied with their meal, technically, that was their choice, but you don’t want that to impact their possibility of a return visit.

The trend of putting the customer in control works seamlessly with “build your own meal” concepts because of their smooth ordering process, transparency, and experience value. Putting the customer in charge really changes the whole dynamic of a restaurant’s traditional business model.  

Would you ever try adding “build your own meal” aspects to your menu offerings? Let us know in the comments below.

Food Photography Tips for Restaurants

How many times have you heard the phrase a picture is worth a thousand words? In today’s world of constant social media interaction, that saying is truer than ever. Photos, especially photos of food, have become a major part of all social media interactions, especially on Instagram.  Now it isn’t like you can just slap up any old photo on your profile and call it a day. The higher quality and more interesting the photos, the more likely they are to be shared and bring customers in your door. But food photography can be challenging, so we’ve put together some helpful tips to have your business putting its best foot forward.

Ideal Lighting

Lighting is probably one of the most important aspects of taking a good photo. If you are able, try to use natural light with indirect sun. This will have your food looking its best, showing off its natural colors, and avoiding harsh shadows. Placing food on a table next to the window is a great way to achieve natural but indirect light. Food placed under fluorescent lighting tends to change tones and colors.

While natural light is best for photos, it isn’t always realistic in restaurants where ambiance and mood lighting are important, and probably dimmer than what you would like. If your restaurant doesn’t have access to natural lighting, you can purchase some equipment to get you closer to achieving great lighting. The Wescott 43” Apollo Orb is a relatively inexpensive option that will get the job done.

Tip: Many commercial table tops will be reflective. Watch out for this when lighting your photos, you don’t want it to distract from the food.

The Perfect Angles

Different angles capture the distinctive components of varying types of food. For example, a plate of grilled chicken and sides might be best shot from above. This will showcase the entire plate and let customers know exactly what they are getting. Items that stack, like burgers and pancakes, are better shot at a 45-degree angle. This showcases the layers and all the goodness in-between. Having photos that vary the angle also help to create variety and interest when you post them to your social accounts or use them in your menu.

Tip: Try to work in triangles. Items shot in groups of three, creating triangles helps to create structure and simplicity.

Staging Your Food

Staging your photos allows you to put your very best foot forward. That being said, staging should complement your food rather than overwhelm it. There are a few things that you can do to present your food in the best possible way. First thing is to make sure that the area you are taking the photo in is clean. Nothing is worse than having great looking food surrounded by crumbs or other unsightly things. It can really ruin the vibe of the photo and distract from the focal point.

The second thing is to switch up your props and backgrounds. Keeping it the same all the time is going to make your photos become boring after a while. If you find yourself in a slump, you can go to the nearest hardware store for some materials with different textures that you can place your plates on.

Finally, take a moment to make sure your food is looking its best is crucial. Adding a little garnish can go a long way. If you find your food looking a little lackluster, you can brush a bit of oil or water to make things look fresh. Don’t overdo it though.

Tip: For inspiration on staging, find a few Instagram accounts that you love and try to emulate their work.

Benefits of Action Shots

Actions shots are a great way to diversify photos and add some interest. A creative way to get these is with a few behind the scenes photos. Your chef stirring up a batch of soup or about to slice some ingredients for your signature dish is an engaging way to let your customers see what goes on in the back and get them craving your food.

Tip: Action shots are also great for adding a human element. It helps to tell your story so don’t be afraid to include hands in some of your food photos.

Editing

The amount of editing you do is entirely up to you. If you choose to edit your photos, there are plenty of free or low-cost editing apps that you can utilize. Depending on the amount of time you spend taking photos and editing, you might want to consider installing Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom. These programs have long been recognized as the top editing software.

Tip: Try not to over edit your photos. To much editing will look fake and potentially tacky.

Branding

Just like everything else in your restaurant, your photos should work within your overall brand design. If your restaurant is a bright breakfast spot it wouldn’t make sense for all of your photos to be dark and dreary. However if you are a romantic little bistro with mood lighting, darker photos might feel just right. Before posting any photo be sure to ask yourself if it is sending the message that you want.

Terms & Concepts

If you are an inexperienced photographer or a pro who needs a refresher here are some photography terms and concepts to keep in mind when shooting. While following some of these concepts might elevate your photos, that doesn’t mean you have to stick to them. Use your own creativity and see what you come up with!

Depth of Field: The distance between the nearest and furthest objects where objects appear acceptably sharp in an image and in focus. By adjusting your depth of field, you can really make it clear to the viewer what you want to be the focal point of the picture. 

Rule of Thirds: A guideline that proposes an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts and that compositional elements should be placed along the lines for a more balanced photo.

Bokeh: The out of focus blurred parts in a background.

Exposure: How light or dark an image is.

Aperture: The size of the opening in the lens. The larger the opening the more light allowed into the lens.

Photos are a universal language that doesn’t need a translator. They are an effective way to communicate to customers and entice them to come to your restaurant. Food photography might seem intimidating, but by ensuring that you have good lighting, interesting content, and some creative thinking, you’ll be well on your way to showcasing your food and your restaurant in the best way possible.

Do you have any food photography tips for us? Let us know in the comments!